President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in New York urged leaders of countries where proceeds of corruption are stashed to do more in returning the stolen funds and assets to their countries of origin.
Addressing world leaders at the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations, Buhari restated his administration’s determination to frontally confront the twin evils of corruption and illicit financial outflows from Nigeria.
The Nigeria president told the international community to urgently redouble its efforts to strengthen mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for proceeds of corruption.
He identified corruption, cross-border financial crimes, cybercrimes and human trafficking as the major challenges of the 21st century which the international community must work collectively to overcome.
He said, “Let me reaffirm the Nigerian government’s unwavering commitment to fighting corruption and illicit financial flows. By any consideration, corruption and cross border financial crimes are impediments to development, economic growth, and the realization of the well-being of citizens across the globe.
“Nigeria is ready and willing to partner with international agencies and individual countries on a bilateral basis to confront crimes and corruption.
“In particular, I call upon the global community to urgently redouble efforts towards strengthening the mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for proceeds of corruption and ensuring the return of stolen funds and assets to their countries of origin.”
Buhari also put forward for consideration before his counterparts the adoption of peace as a seventh essential element of the sustainable development goals adopted last Friday by world leaders in New York.
He said: “The secretary-general has grouped the SDGs into what he calls six “essential elements” namely: dignity, prosperity, justice, partnership, planet and people.
“As a prerequisite to these and as we look at history and remember the terrible events that gave rise to the birth of the United Nations in 1945, I would like to propose a seventh: peace.”
Peace, the Nigerian leader noted, was close to the hearts of Nigerians as they are in the frontline in the war on terror, adding that the Boko Haram war was causing great suffering as the war in the Middle East.
He said, “Boko Haram’s war against the people of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon may not attract as much worldwide attention as the wars in the Middle East but the suffering is just as great and the human cost is equally high.
“This is a war between progress and chaos, between democracy and the rule of law. Boko Haram celebrates violence against the weak and the innocent and, deplorably, they hide behind their perverted interpretation of Islam. Boko Haram is as far away from Islam as anyone can think of,” he explained.
President Buhari, however, assured the global community that his administration was doing all within its powers to quickly overcome the challenge of terrorism and insecurity.
“The new Nigerian government which I have the honour to head moved with dispatch to put in a bold and robust strategy to defeat Boko Haram. Nigeria and her neighbours, Cameroon, Chad and Niger plus Benin, are working together to face this common threat within the regional framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
“We have established a Multinational Joint Task Force to confront, degrade and defeat Boko Haram. We have driven them away from many of their strongholds, killed or captured many of their operatives or commanders and freed several hundreds of hostages,” President Buhari told the General Assembly.
He reassured the international community that rescuing the Chibok girls remains one of the major objectives of his administration, even as he condemned the new and dangerous dimension human trafficking had assumed in the world.
He said, “We are working round the clock to ensure their safety and eventual reunion with their families. The girls are constantly on our minds and in our plans.
“We in Africa are grieved to see hundreds of our able bodied men and women dying in the desert or drowning in the Mediterranean. We condemn in the strongest terms these people traffickers and will support any measures to apprehend and bring them to justice.”
The president further noted that the world was witnessing a dreadful increase in conflicts fuelled by availability of small arms and light weapons.
He called on the international community to work towards the effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty to ensure that small arms and light weapons can only be legally transferred.
He reminded the global assembly that peaceful co-existence and self-determination were among the key principles that led to the establishment of the United Nations.
President Buhari, therefore, called for the urgent resolution of the question of self-determination for the people of Palestine and Western Sahara, saying “the international community has come to pin its hopes on resolving the Palestinian issue through the two states solution which recognizes the legitimate right of each state to exist in peace and security.
“The world has no more excuses or reasons to delay the implementation of the long list of Security Council resolutions on this question; neither do we have the moral right to deny any people their freedom or condemn them indefinitely to occupation and blockade,” he added.